Everyone’s Doing It. Are You?

Wednesday, 22 July, 2009 - 14:28

Friday 18 September is Do It Day – the big day each year when South Africans join forces to paint, plant, clean, read, teach and empower their communities. This year we’re calling for a ‘National Strike’ – not to down tools, but rather to pick them up to fight poverty and underdevelopment around the country. With the backing of organised celebrities, business, civil society and thousands of ordinary citizens possibly even the President himself, Do It Day 2009 is going to be the biggest yet

Every year, GreaterGood South Africa organises and hosts Do It Day, a call-to-action event that connects people with good causes around the country. Do It Day is all about building a culture of volunteering in South Africa and exemplifies the unifying power volunteering has to change lives.

The spirit and practice of volunteering, like the values of ubuntu, where a person is characterised in relation to others, are part of the South African identity. But when it comes to the statistics, South Africans pale in comparison to their American and British counterparts: 29 percent and 36 percent of their populations volunteer respectively, while just 17 percent of South Africans volunteer their time or skills. With Do It Day, we plan to change that.

Take a day off
It is easy to make a difference on Do It Day – all you need to do is sign up for a project at doitday.co.za and arrive on 18 September. We are aiming for 20 000 volunteers working on 2 000 projects this year and we are providing a huge range of options, so that everyone will be able to find something that suits them.

Non-profit organisations have loads of jobs that need doing, from painting homeless shelters to making sandwiches for the hungry and clearing alien vegetation at animal welfare societies. Previously, Do It Day projects were only accepted from organisations that were registered with us, but this year, volunteers can nominate their own Do It Day projects.

Brains, brawn and 2010
Do It Day projects are categorised into ‘heart’, ‘head’ and ‘sweat’ projects. An example of a heart project might be reading to the elderly at a care home in your community, while an example of a head project might be using your computer skills to create a database for a local organisation. Sweat projects simply require hard work and vary from digging vegetable gardens to fixing up buildings.
As the nation gears up for the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup™, many of the projects will have an urban greening focus. This is a reflection of an age-old African tradition to clean up and get your home ready for important guests. There will also be a focus on youth development, to get our children off the streets and onto the soccer pitch.

Celebrities and CEOs
A number of celebrities and high-profile personalities will be donning old clothes and getting dirty on Do It Day and each one that signs up will challenge others to do the same. CEOs will be trading their suits for overalls and challenging their colleagues and competitors to get involved and show South Africa who’s best when it comes to volunteer numbers.

Changing mindsets
In these tough economic times, the message of Do It Day rings louder and clearer than ever – everyone has something to give – and making a difference doesn’t have to cost you a cent. Do It Day is about using resources that are readily available, namely ourselves, to uplift our communities. It’s a powerful, symbolic tool for change, with the potential to transform mindsets about giving. In the words of Nkosi Johnson (1989 – 2001): “Do all you can with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are in.”

Sign up now
Sign up now at doitday.co.za and pick a project for you and your friends or colleagues to take part in. You can also sign up by SMSing the word DO to 33009. Each SMS costs R1.50.

If you can’t make the actual day, you can still be part of the Do It Day phenomenon – we have some ready-made alternatives for you. Just visit the website or contact us to find out.

This article was first published in the July edition of GreaterGood South Africa. It is republished here with permission.

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